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Minority Banking Timeline


Cathay Bank

Cathay Bank

Cathay Bank, which opened in 1962, is the oldest Chinese-American bank in southern California. It was founded by F. Chow Chan, George T.M. Ching, Gerald T. Deal, Dr. Tin Y. Kwong, John R. MacFaden, Thomas Quon, and John F. Verela.

The Chinese-American community in southern California was underserved by mainstream financial institutions, and many Chinese were unaccustomed to American banking practices. Chinese-Americans felt that they needed to start their own institutions so that they would have better access to capital and credit, which they viewed as critical to the continued development of their communities. Most Chinese-American banks were established to serve Chinese immigrants and their children and business establishments.

The Cathay Bank was instrumental in financing apartments in Chinatown in the years following 1965. The bank tutored local Chinese business owners on how to use bank services and provided instructions to Chinatown workers on how to obtain installment loans, often without collateral, to assist family members with airfare from China to the U.S. According to an article in the Los Angeles Business Journal of August 17, 1987, the Cathay Bank is the largest domestically owned Asian institution. The bank eventually grew into a regional bank and expanded to 50 branches in seven states, with one overseas branch in Hong Kong and two overseas offices. The Cathay Bank was the only Chinese-American bank in Los Angeles until the East-West Federal Savings and Loan Association opened in 1972 and the Far East Bank in 1974.


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